Once you’ve established a budget, you can begin looking at venues (or consider hosting at your home, if you have the space).
“Our clients are asking for more interesting and unique venues—location is becoming more important,” explains Lauren Segelbaum, sales coordinator, Event Lab. “People are steering away from traditional spaces and asking for spaces that are unique and interactive.”
From birthdays to weddings and anniversaries (and all the special happenings in life), Jax Café, a family-owned restaurant, is definitely unique. A Minneapolis institution (opened in 1933), stained-glass windows and massive beamed ceilings, a quaint outdoor patio with a cobblestone path, and a trout stream give Jax a classy (yet not pretentious) ambiance. Five different banquet rooms can accommodate anywhere from 25 to 300 guests.
If you love the rich history of a bygone era, consider hosting your big event at the 110-year-old Minneapolis City Hall and Hennepin County Courthouse, featuring dramatic Romanesque architecture, a 345 foot clock tower, a six-story Rotunda adorned with 37 stained glass windows, a skylight, and Italian marble. The banquet facility can accommodate up to 275 guests.
If you’re seeking a memorable, not-your-typical venue site, check out local theaters. Whether planning a party for 20 or 250, there are a variety of banquet rooms for rent at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. One room, The Club, is actually a theatre with a stage, explains Kris Howland, public relations director. The rental fee not only includes a one-of-a-kind setting, but consultation services, a helpful, professional staff, free parking, and delicious food at a moderate price point.
For a destination event that doesn’t require a plane ticket, the areas of Alexandria, Detroit Lakes, Brainerd Lakes, and the North Shore are fairly close to home, yet provide all the right ingredients for a “get-away-from-it-all” experience.
The Lodge on Lake Detroit is an affordable, luxurious, eco-friendly lakefront hotel in the Detroit Lakes area (complete with front-row seats to gorgeous lakefront views, sunset serenades in the fireside lobby, an indoor pool and hot tub, and an on-site full service spa)—perfect for business or leisure retreats, reunions, girls’ getaways, or weddings. “In the summer, the green space between the hotel and the private sandy beach is a favorite place for outdoor weddings,” says co-owner Chris Holland-Mehlaff.
Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior and Lutsen Resort are two very popular options in the Lutsen/Tofte area, perfect for large family reunions, weddings, birthdays, or anniversary celebrations on the North Shore.
Amazing Lake Superior views (think crashing waves, a rocky shoreline, expansive blue water, brilliant sunsets, and fun beach BBQs); hiking, biking, fishing and kayaking in the summer months, and skiing, boarding, and snowshoeing in the snowy months; and a blend of lodging, dining, and event facilities all in one convenient spot add up to a party that will leave a lasting impression.
DECOR & LIGHTING
The décor and lighting set the mood in the room, creating a certain ambiance. Consider an impressive entrance piece, interesting ceiling treatment, enhanced lighting, or beautiful tablescape to get guests talking. “At a dinner party, bud vases at each place setting is a nice, personal touch,” says Amy Backman, owner of Spruce Flowers and Home. If the party should spill onto the deck or patio, candles and potted herbs or succulents help create an ambiance outdoors.
A theme can personalize your event and make it unique. Consider hosting a black tie dinner party (how often do you get to see your friends in formal attire?), an 80s prom 40th birthday bash, a Big Top circus theme, a sophisticated high tea baby shower (with traditional British goodies), a back-to-the-50s sock hop, a Night in Paris, or even a color scheme (You could ask everyone to wear red, for example, incorporate red lighting, and serve red-colored foods). Or you can take cues from classic books or movies.
“We have one couple using The Notebook as inspiration for their vintage wedding,” says Halley Bechtold, wedding and events manager at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. “Some couples are returning to simple, more classic themes while others are going for more natural or rustic themes—decorating with lit trees, greens, and lanterns.” You’re only limited by your imagination.
Hiring a catering service is a must for a big event. The type of food you serve is so important is has the power to make or break an otherwise flawless party. Discuss your budget with your caterer and what options are available. Do you prefer a buffet style or a silver-service sit down dinner? Be clear about your proposed menu, do you have a theme or style at the event that will be reflected in the cuisine? Ask the caterer where they shop (fresh or frozen) and if they will provide a wait-staff (and if so, ask about their required dress code and the ratio of servers to guests). Also ask the potential caterer if taxes and gratuities are included in the final bid, and what happens to the leftovers.
A great band, DJ, photo booth, or karaoke machine can leave a memorable impression on guests. Take it one step further and hire a dance instructor to teach guests a few steps during the party (if you’re having a Roaring 20s-inspired event, ask the instructors to teach guests the Charleston, for example), or learn a specialized routine in advance at Four Seasons Dance Studio in Minneapolis (foxtrot, swing, waltz,or polka). If your party is outdoors, incorporate games into the afternoon or evening (lawn games like croquet are fun and easy to play, or you could create a sort of “pub quiz” game show format with prizes.)
No matter what type of event you’re hosting, don’t forget to have fun. Even if something happens to go wrong, if you act like nothing has gone wrong, your guests will most likely never know the difference.
Don’t Show Up Empty-Handed: Top 10 Hostess Gift Ideas
Congratulations, you got invited to THE party of 2012. All you have to do is show up and have a good time, right? Wrong. Show your appreciation for the host or hostess’s hospitality and hard work by bringing a little gift. It will not only show that you’re thinking of the host, it will help ensure a future spot on the guest list the next time your friend throws a fabulous soirée!
1. A small potted plant or flowers
Make sure the flowers are already in a vase so the host doesn’t have to hunt down a vase during the party, and make sure the plant is nontoxic if the host has pets. Potted orchids are a great idea.
2. Gourmet coffee, tea, or hot cocoa
You can almost never go wrong with a hostess gift basket made up of various treats. Try to find out if the hostess has any dietary restrictions or preferences, then mix and match gourmet coffee, tea, or hot chocolate flavors.
3. Kitchen towels
For a thoughtful, personal touch, think ahead and have a monogram of the host’s last name embroidered on a set of tea towels.
4. Fancy chocolate or candy
Remember: The presentation is all in the box. (It helps when the candy actually tastes good, too.)
5. Premium bottle of infused olive oil
Not all olive oil is created equal. Just as the skill of the vintner is critical to the quality of wine; weather, soil, location, olive varietals, timing of the harvest, the pressing technique, and packaging and storage methods all affect the quality of olive oil.
6. Bamboo serving spoons
As a renewable resource, bamboo is the wave of the future. Bamboo is just as hard as many other woods—if not harder—and is antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti fungal (great for hygiene). It’s also relatively inexpensive.
7. A game
A game can break the ice and get guests mingling (if necessary). Options include a conversation-starter card game, fun board game, or classic game like Dominoes.
8. A bottle of good wine
The key word here is good. Don’t try to unload one of those I’m-never-going-to-drink-this-disgusting-stuff bottles that you have hiding in the back of your liquor cabinet. Bring something you actually enjoy drinking. If you want to up your game, bring some wine glass charms as well.
9. A soy candle or home fragrance diffuser
A sustainable soy candle or home fragrance diffuser is an eco-luxe favorite.
10. Pretty stationery
This timeless classic hostess gift can be used in many ways, from thank-you notes to sending a quick “hello” to a friend or family member.
Aria at The Jeune Lune|
Four Seasons Dance Studio|
The Lodge on Lake Detroit|
Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior|
Madeline Island Ferry Line|
Carlson Wagonlit Travel|
Metro Ice Sculptures|
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres|
Spruce Flowers & Home|
Chowgirls Killer Catering|
Summer Harsh Botanical Artistry|